So often we fail to see, and someday soon they may no longer be, so look now—that’s a tree.
Callery Pear, Manhattan
In his beautiful and informative book The Songs of Trees, David George Haskell, biologist and author, visits a dozen different trees around the world, from the Amazonian forests to the streets of New York City. He shares insights and facts that remind us of how our lives are intertwined with the lives of trees.
This excerpt from the chapter on the Callery Pear in Manhattan, set in a banal surrounding, an urban sidewalk, illustrates with simplicity and grace the influence of trees in our everyday lives.
“Trees also diversify human experience by changing the weather, in small ways on the sidewalk and at the much larger scale of the whole city. On an afternoon in late July, I rest a thermometer on the pavement under the tree: eighty degrees Fahrenheit, twenty-seven degrees Celsius. A few paces away, where no leaves cast their shade, the surface temperature is ninety-six degrees Fahrenheit, thirty-six degrees Celsius…The newsstand vendors affirm the thermometer’s testimony: in Manhattan’s summer, shade is welcome.“
“Combined, New York City’s five million trees yearly remove an estimated two thousand tons of air pollutants, in addition to more than forty thousand tons of carbon dioxide.”
Yet we forget that air conditioning only cools the air; it does not purify it.
Planting trees is redeeming—if you’re also consuming thoughtfully—but protecting and preserving trees is a biological imperative, selfsame as care for the self.
“(All) life has a contradictory, creative duality in its nature: it is atom or network; it is neither and both,” explains Haskell, “The human/nature duality that lives near the heart of many philosophies is, from a biological perspective, illusory.”
Maybe stepping into a tree’s shade will remind us of how interconnected we are.
We are thankful to Punarbhavaa, our paper and print partner, located in Tamil Nadu, in South India. Punarbhavaa has made the paper for this book from waste and recycled cotton fibre, without wood pulp. They are helping us keep our commitment to Respect, Care, and Include. Their pledge
to the environment is exceptional, and it reflects in their processes.
Paper being dried naturally, in the sun.
Scraps of waste cotton to be recycled.
Converting cotton fibre into pulp, with Tapioca.
Pressing and making paper, without wood pulp.
Rows of paper sun-bathing.
Punarbhavaa’s solar-powered production facility.